Seahawks, Texans Advance in Playoff Openers

Quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks gets ready to run a play against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game

Washington (AFP) – Russell Wilson tossed two touchdown passes to power Seattle over Detroit 26-6 while Brock Osweiler threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Houston beat Oakland 27-14 in Saturday’s NFL playoff openers.

The Seahawks stretched their playoff win streak in Seattle to 10 games, third-best in NFL history, and booked a second-round National Conference matchup next Saturday in Atlanta.

“We’re expecting a fight,” said Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner. They are rested. They are going to be hungry. But we’re hungry too. We’re going to come out and give them everything we’ve got.”

The Lions suffered their NFL record ninth consecutive playoff defeat. Detroit has not won a playoff game in 25 seasons and has not won a road playoff game or an NFL title since 1957.

“We were just locked in,” Wagner said. “We knew we were going to play well.”

Houston advanced to a second-round American Conference matchup next weekend at either New England or Kansas City.

“Overall, it was probably our best game of the year,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “I’m really proud of these players.”

Houston’s fate depends upon the outcome of Sunday’s Pittsburgh-Miami playoff game.

“I don’t care who we play. We are going to play at a high level,” Texans defensive star Jadeveon Clowney said. “We are just going to keep fighting.”

The Green Bay Packers, entering the playoffs on a six-game win streak, host the New York Giants in Sunday’s other playoff game, with the winner to visit Dallas a week later in the second-round.

– ‘Hard-nosed football’ –

At Seattle, Thomas Rawls carried 27 times for a team playoff record 161 rushing yards and a touchdown.

“I’m feeling so good. We worked so hard to get to this point,” Rawls said. “It motivates us, playing tough hard-nosed Seahawks football. That’s what we did.”

The Seahawks, who have not lost a home playoff game since January 2005, opened the scoring on Wilson’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson.

Richardson made a one-handed touchdown reception while grabbing a defender’s face mask, but did not draw a penalty flag.

Seattle’s Steven Hauschka kicked a 43-yard field goal and Detroit’s Matt Prater answered from 51 yards late in the second quarter to leave the Seahawks ahead 10-3 at half-time.

Prater added a 53-yard field goal for the Lions but Hauschka answered from 27 yards early in the fourth quarter to give Seattle a 13-6 edge.

On their next possession, the Seahawks drove 82 yards in eight plays capped by Rawls’ 4-yard touchdown run, although Hauschka’s missed conversion kick left Seattle ahead by only 19-6.

Wilson lofted a final 13-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 4:12 remaining to seal Detroit’s fate.

– ‘An ultimate team victory’ –

The Texans, 19-0 over three seasons when leading at half-time and 6-0 in this campaign, could become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own home stadium.

“This was truly an ultimate team victory, and I’m very proud of this football team,” Osweiler said. “It means a lot.”

The Raiders, in their first playoff game since the 2002 season, struggled behind rookie Connor Cook, who became the first quarterback to make his first NFL start in a playoff game after injuries to Derek Carr and Matt McGloin.

The Texans, who hadn’t won a playoff game in four years, had the fewest total season points of any playoff team since 2005, but their top-rated defensive unit was good enough to put them in the post-season.

Houston’s Nick Novak kicked a 50-yard field goal to open the scoring and Clowney picked off a Cook pass to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller.

“He has really stepped up and made a bunch of big plays for us,” O’Brien said of Clowney. It has to continue.”

Oakland answered on a 2-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray but Novak’s 38-yard field goal put Houston ahead 13-7.

Osweiler hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 80 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Texans a 20-7 half-time lead, then added a 1-yard touchdown run.

While the Raiders answered on Cook’s 8-yard touchdown pass, interceptions by Houston’s Corey Moore and A.J. Bouye snuffed out Oakland’s final hope.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “We have a bright future.”